Georgetown University is no stranger to scandals. In 2010 a meth lab was discovered in one of the student dorms and Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student drew major attention to the school when she appeared in a hearing to discuss birth control; specifically the Jesuit institution’s refusal to cover birth control under the student health care plan. Could yet another scandal be brewing?
Enter the Community Scholars Program at the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access. The CSP reaches out to disadvantaged youth and provides full scholarships and assistance for to GU. By all accounts it is a wonderful program that has great intentions and has helped many young people achieve their dream of attending college. Here is how they explain themselves at their website: The Community Scholars Program provides Georgetown students with the unique opportunity to thrive. Scholars are carefully selected during the admissions process based on their academic achievement, impressive co-curricular accomplishments, and commitment to the transformative power of education. They typically represent diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and are often first generation college students.
Scholars attend a five-week summer intensive on campus to prepare for the upcoming school year. .
Here is what is listed at the website as the course curriculum.
- The summer residential component is constructed around two credit-bearing courses – Humanities and Writing 009, and a second Summer School course. The Humanities and Writing course is an intensive critical-reading and writing course taught by Georgetown faculty with graduate-student writing tutors. A second Summer Session course, chosen by each student’s academic dean, provides participants with an opportunity to get a head start on their credit hours before beginning their first semester. Courses include Theology, Philosophy, Government, and Math, depending on their school and intended course of study.
- Scholars live in a residence hall along with Resident Advisors, who provide an extended orientation to life at Georgetown.
- Continuation of Humanities and Writing 009 course into the Fall semester. This course counts as six (6) credits.
- Fourth Hour Study Group for Core Courses – Led by former students who excelled in the course. Fourth hour support will be offered for Microeconomics, Chemistry and Calculus.
- Freshman Year Support – This support includes mandatory attendance at College Readiness Seminar Series, meetings with the Academic Advisor, and various social events.
- Ongoing Support - Ongoing activities throughout the remainder of a Scholar’s Georgetown career, including one-on-one meetings with the Academic Advisor; special faculty seminars; cultural and social outings; and community service opportunities.
Sounds pretty basic. What is not included in this summary is one other workshop that students were required to attend as a part of the CSP. It was an LBGT “Sensitivity Training” course and apparently it was a requirement for students attending the program. According to multiple sources who wish to remain anonymous, although many students were uncomfortable about being forced to attend the training they were told they would face disciplinary action if they did not participate. One student who has yet to be officially named refused and was allegedly escorted off campus by Georgetown Campus Police. He was expelled from the summer program but there is a possibility he will still be eligible to attend regular classes in the fall. And in case you were wondering if this is true, here is video taken at the actual workshop and slipped to us exclusively here at kiradavis.net. Also see Talitha McEachin’s reporting on this story for more info.
This story brings up all kinds of questions:
Is it really appropriate for a Jesuit institution to suspend any student based on their personal/religious beliefs?
Why is this program only a requirement for a program that it filled with minorities, but not for every incoming freshman? The young man in question was a minority and suspended for expressing his cultural discomfort with the course. Does this not beg the question: Is there a racial element to this?
Why LBGT training and not another type of “sensitivity” training as well?
It’s understandable that the University wants to offer workshops like this. It’s a part of modern life. But what seems inappropriate (and possibly illegal) is to eject a student altogether for their personal objections to a course that seemingly has nothing to do with academics. Is this the type of “tolerance” GU and the CSP are interested in teaching? Only certain views are acceptable and others will not be tolerated? This story is obviously still developing, but it raises some interesting and disturbing questions about one of the nation’s most distinguished institutions of learning.
Officials at Georgetown and the CSP could not be reached for comment at the time this post was published.
Stay tuned to kiradavis.net for updates and developments as they occur.
UPDATE: As I was writing I received this email statement from Jarrett Roby, the young man who was asked to leave the campus because of his refusal to attend the sensitivity training. It as is follows (some names have been removed for privacy concerns):
I’m just greatly saddened about the situation. Officially, the program directors will say I was dismissed from the program because I left 3 of the RAs feeling physically threatened. However I never mentioned anything remotely violent or did anything violent. Also I am confident that all of my peers would support the fact that I have never showed an ounce of violence and any such claims are flawed. The directors of the program who dismissed me said that their reasoning may not be fair, but they were not going to ask for a general consensus of me.
Considering this, I believe I was asked to leave the program because I took a conservative stand against a liberal ideology and liberal group of people who are in charge of the program. Every scholar apart of the program was signed up for an LGBTQ seminar for Monday (July 23). I decided this was a seminar I would not attend. I am a devout Christian so I have no animosity in my heart toward any man whether he is gay or straight. I am required to love all people and I try my best to do so. I have no problems with homosexuals because it is the natural and God given right to be with whom they want to be with (Freewill). I do not support Gay rights, but as a supporter of the US constitution I do tolerate them.
Because I have an established view point on LGBTQ I did not think it was necessary for me to go to the seminar. I approached a RA privately with my appeal on Sunday and it was automatically shut down and I was told I could expect to be written up if I did not go to the seminar. I held my peace and persisted with the idea of not going. Later that night other students got wind that I was not planning on going to the seminar. I was automatically attacked and deemed “closed-minded” and “ignorant”. In the mist of this rising confrontation I began to speak up to try and explain to other scholars how I was not trying to be intolerant. During this discussion the same three RAs that decided that they felt physically threaten tried to stop the conversation and send everyone to their rooms before the established curfew. I once again spoke up in protest of the early curfew and with an appeal that everyone calms down and back off. As the intensity died down it was clear that the RAs had personal biases toward LGBTQ and were against anyone who spoke against it. I heard the RAs say negative things about me but I didn’t respond because once everything died down it was curfew and I did not want to turn a political debate into and emotional onslaught.
The next day I was called in by the program directors and told my actions during the informal debate had reassured the RAs feeling of being threatened. I was told that there had been a meeting with the RA’s and it was decided that I could not stay because 3 RAs were scared for the safety. I believe a true injustice was done to me. I am not looking for revenge, but I am trying to help stop injustice. – Jarret Roby